stuffed jumbo pasta shells

Last night, I mentioned on Twitter that I was making stuffed shells for dinner. Lots of folks asked for the recipe. There are tons of variations of this dish around, but this is my interpretation. Enjoy!

Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shells

1 box of jumbo pasta shells (you will have extra)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion (yellow or white), chopped small
4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 pound ground sirloin
10oz package of chopped frozen spinach – thawed and drained
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
Salt & pepper to taste
Large jar of your favorite red pasta sauce

Cook your pasta shells per package directions. Drain, and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes or so. Then add sirloin and brown.

Transfer meat mixture to large bowl to cool a bit. Tossing with a spoon will help speed up this process. Once it has cooled down some, mix in spinach, bread crumbs, 1 cup of the Mozzarella cheese, ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine well. You can adjust the amounts with more or less of the bread crumbs or cheese to your liking. The mixture should be crumbly, but when pressed should stick together. Some people add an egg to help bind, but I generally don’t find this necessary.

In a rectangular baking dish (9×12 works well), place about 1 cup or so of your pasta sauce. Enough to cover the bottom of the dish.

Stuff the pasta shells with filling mixture. The easiest way is to hold one shell in one hand and gently cup it so that stays open a bit. Use a spoon to put about 2 tablespoons (give or take) of filling in each shell. Gently press the filling into the shell. Place shells open side down into baking dish with pasta sauce. For the amount of filling this recipe makes I generally get about 20 or so shells stuffed and they all fit into a rectangular baking dish.

Pour remaining pasta sauce over the top of the stuffed shells. All the shells should be covered. Then sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and then ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. This will easily serve 6 people with hearty appetites.

You can prepare ahead of time and keep in the fridge for a day and then bake just before ready to serve. Just add 15 minutes or so to baking time if coming out of fridge. If you don’t need that large of a quantity, use 2 smaller baking dishes and divided the stuffed shells into 2 batches. Freeze one batch for future use.